Thursday, March 22, 2012

Timing is everything

Now we know the timetable for the ballot of UNISON members in Health in relation to the Government's derisory "final offer" on pensions ( we can see that timing truly is everything.

It's apparently vital that, in asking our members to take a decision about a pension scheme which will come into force in three years time, we insist they must decide now. I have to say that, as a member of the ruling body of our Union I do not believe this to be true and have heard no justification for this timetable. However, I know that the majority of my fellow NEC members have a proven track record of unquestioning faith in our "world class negotiators" so there must be some cunning plan behind our seeming to accept the timetable of our adversaries.

I understand that it's apparently so important that our members are rushed into an early decision that it is unavoidable that the ballot must open during the Easter Holidays. Since we all know that women bear the lionesses' share of the burden of childcare and may therefore be disproportionately likely to be absent from the workplace - and from related workplace discussion - when the ballot opens, I can only conclude that it's a good job that our Union isn't bothered about such matters.

Similarly, since we are asking our members in health to vote on a pension scheme about which we haven't seen an Equality Impact Assessment, I can only conclude that we never meant that we really cared about equality impact assessments as a necessary prerequisite before decisions were made. That was just a position we adopted to protect ourselves from litigation I suppose. More fool me for believing we were sincere.

The many local government branches who were told that they could not make recommendations to their own members about Single Status deals without legal opinions informed by detailed equality impact assessments will doubtless be as confused as I am by the fact that - if the deal to be struck is a horrendous capitulation to a reactionary Government in a way which is contrary to the interests of all our members - we no longer need to insist upon such an equality impact assessment.

This suggests that we never really cared about equality but only about potential legal liabilities. Surely that cannot be right?

For the Health SGE to have adopted a timetable for a member ballot on this question which begins shortly before Health Service Group Conference and ends just after suggests that they have allowed themselves to be manipulated in order transparently to display contempt for lay democracy in our trade union.

That obviously cannot be the case. It must be some misunderstanding.

However, when the various SGEs dealing with our members in the LGPS allow officers to embark upon "surveymonkey" surveys which undermine our position in negotiations and for which they have no authority all UNISON members have to wonder what is going on.

It's a good job their "surveymonkey" doesn't think to "see no evil", "hear no evil", "speak no evil"...

Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange

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